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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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00:30:00

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mpeg2video

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mp2

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720

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Us 5, Lowe 3, Jon Haber 2, Llc 2, Dell 2, Corp. 2, Mascara 2, Msnbc 2, California 2, Francis 1, Judd Harener 1, John Crowley 1, Homeowner Kelly Martin 1, Kurtz 1, J.j. Ramberg 1, Tub 1, An S Corp. 1, New York City 1, Vanity 1, San Francisco 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    July 30, 2011
    2:30 - 3:00am PDT  

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they thought outside of the box by putting everything bathroom remodelers need inside a box. how reinvention can take your small business to the next level. that's coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy. and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc.
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hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business", where we give you tips and advice to help your business grow. often the business owners we feature on this show focus on new products. this week we meet two sbreep neuros who aren't doing that. they've figured out how to streamline the delivery of some products out there. as a result they mite change the entire bathroom remodelling industry. >> about three years ago i undertook a fairly massive remodelling project. >> i had been through the terror and frustration of doing a couple of bathrooms. >> we had german faucets, an american bathtub, italian tile and here we are sitting there trying to figure out how to put
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all these parts and pieces together that were not standardized or thought through in any way. >> i was walking down the street with a sink with my wife trying to go to three different stores to match it up with the tile she wanted. >> i said there has to be a more efficient way to put a bathroom together than this. >> there had to be a better way than that. >> those words, there had to be a better way, launched a new business for these two california-based entrepreneurs. >> we want to schedule all of these groups. >> john crowley, a construction systems engineer and bill hutcher a former wall street banker are the founders of bath simple. a three-year-old obama remodelling service outside san francisco. >> why don't we plip these. >> as john and bill saw it the problem wasn't with the available products out there, the problem was the inefficient process for gathering those products and getting them to
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consumers. >> the homeowner typically has to travel to many different locations. they go to the lighting store, they go to the tile store, the plumbing supply store, to pick out all the bits and pieces which they never get to see all in one place. >> you can go to a lowe's or home depot one of the good box stores and good luck. you're on your own. >> how did these two industry outsiders enter the seemingly saturated market of a complex, well established industry like bavm remodelling? >> no one has ever approached it from a system perspective. sometimes it takes someone from outside the industry to reinvent the industry. >> as outsiders they asked themselves how to streamline the process where manufacturers and sellers almost never communicate. >> no one delivers your bathroom in a box in the most simple list term that's what we do. >> that's how they hit on the bass in a box concept.
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they treated the whole bathroom as a single product rather than a collection of various wigts. by bundling everything together they streamlined the design chain from a supply sketch to a finished bathroom. >> the idea is to be able to think through in advance all of the parts and pieces that go into that bathroom ecosystem. >> it's nice. it's all in there. >> vanity, cabinet, tub, all the valves. >> it's a box with my whole bathroom in it. >> that's homeowner kelly martin in california. she's renovating her bathroom. and everything her contractor needs for the job from the new bathtub and the toilet right down to the tiniest nails and screws are all inside this box. >> when you arrive at the job site all of the elements for the entire project are on the job site. which is by far the most
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efficient way. >> for building contractor chris owner of the bay area canyon construction, that means nothing is missing and therefore no lost time and no expensive delays. >> it definitely results in a savings in the cost. time is money in contracting. >> what we're talking about is mass customization. i would say what we're doing in the bathroom is not dissimilar from what dell does with pcs. dell basically lets you define your pc configuration. and they make it. they have parts on the shelf and they aggregate it and put it in a box and ship it to you in a week. >> john and bill say that big manufacturers are starting to take notice of this new supply chain approach. they see it as an alternative drishs channel to the big box stores which control much of the industry. >> the manufacturers see bath simple as a way to open up a whole new channel for how they sell their product.
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they're stuck in the home depot, lowe's channel, it's a big channel, but a low margin, it's dangerous to have one big customer. we sell to the contractors out there and they get it very quickly. >> consumers, too, are taking notice. the online design software makes the selection process faster and easier than the traditional chore of running from store to store. >> i have three middle school kids. and i just don't have to time. this whole idea intrigued me with bath simple. that's how i got started with that. >> from the manufacturers to the contractors to the consumer to the retail chains they see this as a new way of doing something that's been done for a long time the old way. >> rethinking and reinventing an approach to a business can make you stand out from the crowd. let's turn to this week's board of directors. angela is the co-founder of
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savor the success, a business network for women. she's also the founder and ceo of own aroma. rod kurtz is the executive director of aol small business. >> indeed i am. >> great to see both of you guys. this was particularly interesting to me because my mother and brother started a company called job track which took an industry that was completely inefficient chfgs job listings from colleging for companies and meat it more efficient. it was not a glamorous business. >> i remember using it in college. >> yeah, everyone did it. they sold it to monster eventually. what they just did it's the same as the bath in the box. simplifying an industry. it seems like you're in the market to start a business. it might a smart thing to gist look at things that you deal with where you're kind of frustrated. >> i think bathroom is a box is so catchy as well. my only concern, i don't know if
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it was fully addressed in this piece is what kind of choice do you have as a consumer or as a contractor. when you go to the lighting district here in new york city you've got thousands and thousands of light fixtures to choose from. how much choice is given on their website within their company. >> what's to stop home depot or lowe's from creating this. >> you saw several times in the package they referenced home depot and lowe's. having everything in one place you don't have the variety that younesly have going to a lighting specific store or whatever it may be. to your original point you said something interesting they said there had to be a better way. there are so many industries out there, this is what it comes down to. just because it's been done that way forever, doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. >> i love that they added this website component.
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i think that's what it becomes -- they can pick and choose the tiles and faucets. that's brilliant. >> i related, too. i have no time. >> i went through some home improvement this week. simplicity is great. >> that's why i maerd an architect. >> smart. >> thanks, guys. >> judd harener has been in the business of branding advertising in markets for more than 20 years. as president, chief marketing officer and ceo of several large companies he saw firsthand the ineefficiencies of his industry. when he started his agency he set out to run a small business based on need not want. he recommends that all small business owners do the same. he says don't accept things at face value and question everything including the fancy offices, unreasonable deadlines and difficult --
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>> the recession has obviously had a really big impact on a lot of people's lives. it's been a really big struggle. it's really important to find time ogo back to basics. what are you in business for? how do you get back to that? when you do it and uncover things and say it doesn't make any sense. what is an office for, what does it mean and how do you use it to your mutual advantage. for the operations of my company and for the service of my client. these are the things that we think our clients value. and they do, but one of the first things that we looked at is why? because our clients don't really come to our offices very often. we go to theirs. so in the end we're assuming pretty large overhead for a two-hour meeting that we would like our client to pay for all year. i wonder if you asked your client do they really want to
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pay for that what they'd say. an idea is something that requires inspiration, nourishment, sometimes they conflict, sometimes they don't. we're so reluctant to change a date. i've had instances where call clients say guess what, i said i know four weeks. it's not perfect. i've never had a client get mad about that. conversely sometimes we arrive at ideas and they're just done. we hit it. we're reluctant to say i'd like to show it to you earlier. they'll we're paying them too much money. part of the reason i was excited about starting a company it's able to make decisions on how we operate it. one of the things that bothered me having worked at so many places is the way we indulge [ bleep ]s. i don't think we should coddle these people or indulge. there's got to be a a better way. there's no one too tal epted to
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work in my company. if you're a client no matter how much money you have, i don't want to work with you. i don't want you to win. and that's all right. that's the freedom and fun of having your own business. is you get to make these decisions. bad business, perhaps, business on my terms. that's absolutely fine because that's what it's all about. being a small business is a decision. the decision is my business, my terms. >> and there's no question that we'll have more good information to help you run your small business. rod and angela will answer a viewer email about how to compete against foreign companies. and everyone here has been itching to get their hands on this week's elevator pitcher product, a yummy vegetarian meal product, a yummy vegetarian meal in a jar. this is my band from the 80's, looker.
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hair and mascara, a lethal combo. i'm jon haber of alto music. my business is all about getting music into people's hands. and the plum card from american express open helps me do that. you name it, i can buy it. and the savings that we get from the early pay discount has given us money to reinvest back into our business and help quadruple our floor space. how can the plum card's trade terms get your business booming? booming is putting more music in more people's hands. from our very informal focus group that happened when we put our elevator's pitcher product in our msnbc kitchen, we know there's interest in this cuisine. as we know from this show, a good product doesn't always make for a good business. lest see how our pitcher does in selling the idea of her company
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to our panel. >> morning. >> good morning. >> quite well, how about yourself? >> well. >> great. this is conscience cuisine. it embraces all the challenges facing the prepared foods industry. it is ve began, glue ten free, all natural, contains no sodium and no isles. >> it smells good. >> exactly. it's in a b.p.a. free jar that you can heat the product in and reuse afterwards. it's meant to be beautiful. >> free breakfast. >> it's meant to be gufl, flavorful food that's socially responsible. st liking for $300,000 to be divided equally between start up cost, building inventory and marketing and promotion. >> oh, that's nice. >> maggy, i feel like it's always a good idea to bring food for our panel. >> butter us up. >> as i said everybody here loved the taste of it. what do you guys think of the pitch, though, the product -- >> the it's actually really good. >> food always helps.
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>> i thought you did a great job. what i want are a little bit more statistics. more of a forecast of what your sales could be. what you've got in the pipeline. if you're asking for the money, i want to know what you've got going on to ensure that this could be a company that works not just a good product. >> right. i'd agree. i think you've got us here in the kitchen. it's a question of winning us over in the elevator. we want more specifics if you're going to invest our money in it, it needs to be more than tasty. but definitely of interest. >> i'm a carnivore. if you've got me eating ve began, it's good. >> you said to me before the show, i have all these big companies, well known companies waiting for the product. i think that would be something -- >> that would pique my interest. >> i was the in house chef for another company and i worked for a top gourmet grocer here in the country. i have the contacts. >> you've got a great business card on the apron there. it's perfect. >> good luck with everything. thank you for feeding the panel.
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>> thank you. >> thank you guys as well. if any of you out there have an idea. just send us an email. you never know somebody out there watching the show may be interested in helping you. many small businesses use g mail as their email system. but are you getting everything you can out of this google product? here now are five apps and plug-ins to take your g mail experience to the next level courtesy of smallbiztrends.com. >> ra portative helps you record the name and places of people that email you. it automatically links your g mail information. with boomerang you can write an email now and schedule it to be
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sent automatically at the perfect time. if you use g mail from outside the u.s., hot spot shield will come in handy. the free app lets you log into g mail from countries that block it with a firewall. and finally when you download the plug-in active inbox, you can organize emails by project so your inboxes never get out of control. it's time now to answer some of your business questions. angela and rod are with us once again. the first one is from francis, the owner of a jewelry business. she asks, how can i market my julie during these challenging economic times when there are so many designers and retailers importing jewelry from other countries. how do i compete with them? >> not on price. never on price. i'm friends with two sister who
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run a grand jewelry brand. >> we had on the show. >> they are so good at telling their story behind the brand. cob assumers have so many choices right now. they want to align with brands that they like that they share in the stories. whether it's on twitter sharing juicy details about the life of the designers that kind of thing really gets consumers excited about the brand and they feel like they're part of the team. >> right, i think there are a couple of things that she can do. she really needs to find a niche. she can't be all things to everyone. the other thing is stepping out as a personality behind the brand. that's what i had to do with my skin care line. there are so many skin care brands on the market. what i had to do is step out from behind the curtain and really brand myself with my company. i think that's what can differentuate you. >> you are outgoing, you like talking to people. it fits with who you are, a lot of people aren't and love their business and company, but don't want to be out there themselves.
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>> i hate to keep turning back to it. that's one great thing about social media. it's sort of digital. if you're not outgoing in person. i know some shy people that are fan fastic on facebook and twitter because they have that barrier between them zblchls the question that i would pose to you is do you feel that works with jewelry? >> i think it can. i think with any consumer brand, i would assume that your identity is part of the designs. communicate that on a new level with customers. >> you're both wearing lovely jewelry today. >> thank you. >> let's move on to the next question, this is about forming your company. >> in the past i have been advised by a cpa that it was in my best interest to form my company as a llc versus an s corp. what do you feel is in my best interest as an entrepreneur. >> knowing nothing about her business. i'm not going to ask you to actually answer that question, but to help her understand some of the basics or at least where
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to go to answer its. >> i love leveragealawyer.com. you can get flat fee service that's available in all 50 states. you can ask a lawyer what would be most appropriate. i like s corp. because of the tax benefits. i think it's easiest when you're first launching a business to go the llc route. >> we have a great how to guide. type in llc into the search. you'll find it. it sort of lays out the benefits, the pros and cons of llc versus s corp. when you're just starting oit llc can be great. it's the most flexible structure. she should do her homework and check out the information on different sites. >> great, this is a question about how to find funding. >> with so many funding options out there, where do i start when i'm looking for funding for my small business? >> you're saying -- >> what i think is interesting is how she's approaching it. usually when we get this question is i can't get money
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anywhere. she's saying there's so many places to get money, where can i start? >> i love that. >> i'm pulling out my wallet. you should go to possibly to your credit card in. this climate depending on how much money you need, a credit card can be a great way to get a little infusion of cash to get things off the ground. >> i've hosted a few panels recently about finding funding. there's lots of talk about angel investors and people out there who want to give money, but it's primarily inevitably get someone in the audience saying but i have a jewelry company or a furniture company, i do not have an internet company or a green tech company. and where are the angel investors for something like that? >> you can always network and google. there are a lot of angel investing organizations out there. i always say hold off on that for as long as possible. it's like getting married. i'm so surprised you actually suggest that. that's how i started my business. >> you hear it so many times, i
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wouldn't have said it a few years ago. frankly people cannot get loans as easily as they could. there's so much cash on the sidelines depending on how much you're talking about, the other option we always talk about is friends and family. and there's so many companies that get their start that way. >> i agree. we did a really neat story last week about this company that got professional investors interested and then said i'm not interested. we're going to go to friend and family. they were a mom company. they went to other moms. i think that's a good way for her is people who are interested in your industry. my customers who might have a little cash and willing to invest. >> i would add that you have a have a very good relationship with money. it can be very risky. >> credit cards. >> yeah. the other safer route is when i was a concert pianoist i saved a huge portion of my touring fees and put it toward my skin care line. j-o-b. job. >> so have another job that --
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exactly. >> the last one this is a question about social media and making money. >> how does one monetize social media and be able to make a profit from it? >> i think this is such a good question. a lot of times people say social media is great because it's free. it's not free. it takes a lot of your time. and you're not going to necessarily direct roi on that social media. >> i did a story a few years back, five ways to actually make money on twitter. it opened my eyes for twitter. i think a couple real quick ways one coupons, offer coupons on your twitter feed. you can't just be blasting people with promotions all the time. if you have a conversational tone to your twitter and every so often you say if you follow us or retweet or whatever it may
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be. the other great thing about twitter is the search. depending on what industry you're in, you can see what people are chattering about buzz they do it all the time on twitter venting about look for an apartment or whatever. we looked at a real estate firm that looked at people complaining about their apartment searches. they said hit them up on twitter and we've got some great listings. the search is a huge function and often overlooked function of twitter. >> i think that's a great idea. >> i agree and disagree a little bit. i think you have to really look at your brand. if your brand is a discount brand, it makes sense to send out the coupons, if not that can be dangerous. i like to look at social media as a trumpet. it's not necessarily that you're going to get immediate roi, you're getting your message out little by little. you're branding, your marketing message. hopefully they will come to your website and sign up for your news letter and you create a relationship with your potential customers. that's how i like to look at
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social media. >> i do. if you just throw out a lot of promotions people are not going to follow you. >> it does need to be a conversation. >> it can be a customer service thing. it's about sometimes not losing customers that you get the best return. people might tweet and say i had a horrible experience. hit them back up on twirt or facebook and offer them a coupon. >> thank you so much for all of this advice. and if any of you out there have a question for our experts all you have to do is go to our website. angela and rod had some helpful advice about how to improve your business. now let's get some great ideas from small business owners just like you.
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>> my great idea is on naming your business. remember a lot of businesses is still spread by word of mouth. you need to pick a name that people can spell and find on the internet. a lot of people try to find the shortest domain name as possible. >> my tip so entrepreneurs is to realize when you do not get payment for your services upfront you become an unsecured creditor. so don't be afraid to ask for your pams up front and to be aggressive with your collections. >> my great idea for entrepreneurs is to encourage them to make sure they develop a stra teengic plan before they set up a business plan. and with the stra teengic plan you will outline how your organization should function from operational perspective and it's an internal document and the business plan is the plan that you showcase to investors. >> speaking of great ideas, as you all know, i spend a lot of time talking to entrepreneurs. in my conversations i often hear
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some little thing that someone is doing that i think, wow, that is so easy. that's so smart, i've got to do that in my own business. here's an example, this woman founder of grow business media and a frequent guest told me, don't give your clients gifts around christmas, they'll get lost in the shuffle. instead send something around halloween or thanksgiving and then they'll stand out. smart, simple, game changing. that's a great idea. we're always look for more of these to include in the show. do you have a fantastic tip you'd be willing to share with us? if so, send it to us. do you think your business is a good candidate for funding? the so check out our website of the week bowfully.com offers a free tool to assess your loan requested and the odds of getting some cash. after entering some basic th th more than 1,000 pamping lenders. at the end of the aaeszment
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you'll get a report of possible lenders, a breakdown of your loan request and some suggestions to improve your chances of getting capital. to learn more about today's show click on our website. you'll find all of today's segments, plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. don't forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feed back. you can a also follow us on twitter. next week, your business goes to sacramento, california, after getting a small business 9-1-1 call from a woman who says her mother's housecleaning company needs some scrubbing. >> i need some constructive criticism. as long as you're polite and nice about it, if you make me cry, i'm going to be upset. >> we help her spruce up our cleaning business with a small biz intervention. remember, we make your business remember, we make your business our business.
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this is my band from the 80's, looker. hair and mascara, a lethal combo. i'm jon haber of alto music. i've been around music my entire life. this is the first alto music i opened when i was 24. my business is all about getting music into people's hands. letting someone discover how great music is, is just an awesome thing. and the plum card from american express open helps me do that. i use it for as much inventory as i possibly can. from picks...to maracas... to drums... to dj equipment... you name it, i can buy it. and the savings that we get from the early pay discount on those purchases has given us money to reinvest back into our business and help quadruple the size of our floor space. and the more we expand, the more space we have for instruments and musicians to come play them.